Stow council to consider mask regulations

If approved, masks would be mandatory in city

APRIL HELMS Reporter

STOW – Stow City Council is expected to discuss legislation on Thursday that would make wearing masks mandatory in the city.

Councilwoman Christina Shaw plans to introduce a bill for mandated mask wearing in all public spaces in Stow, including retail businesses, restaurants, bars, health care facilities, hotels, ride-sharing services and other businesses.

The ordinance would take effect immediately and remain in effect until council rescinds it.

“Our intent, first and foremost, is to educate our residents about the importance of wearing masks and social distancing in preventing community spread of coronavirus and, secondarily, to promote compliance,” Shaw said.

A mask order was issued for Summit County by Gov. Mike DeWine on July 15, following the county being declared Level 3 Red on Ohio Public Health Advisory System's coronavirus scale. The governor’s office recently created a color-coded system for the state’s 88 counties that indicate the amount of risk of exposure to COVID-19. The colors, from least to most severe, are yellow, orange, red and purple.

The city order provides health care and religious exemptions, and excludes schools, both public and private, which Shaw said would be governed by the local school board and Ohio Department of Education. The bill establishes the same guidelines as the state’s order for Summit County, with the exception of its duration.

“Our intent, first and foremost, is to educate our residents about the importance of wearing masks and social distancing in preventing community spread of coronavirus and, secondarily, to promote compliance,” Shaw said.

“We want to keep Stow open during this pandemic,” she added. “Our state’s and country’s health experts advise that the best way to do that is through widespread mask-wearing. This ordinance is intended to keep all who live and work in Stow safer from coronavirus.”

The law would include enforcement provisions, with warnings and an opportunity to comply with the ordinance, followed by a civil fine of $50 for individuals and $250 for businesses. The city intends to sign an agreement with the Summit County Combined General Health District authorizing the health department to enforce the law.

Shaw said that the legislation will be discussed in committee. Committee meetings begin at 5:30. From there, she said she hoped council would vote on the legislation that evening. The regular meeting starts at 7 p.m. The meetings will be in council chambers, in the first floor of City Hall, at 3760 Darrow Road.

April Helms can be reached at ahelms@recordpub.com